Arrow RECAP: The Return of the Queen (S3:E12)
Previously on Arrow: Oliver got killed by Ra’s al Ghul and unkilled by Tastu and Maseo, the mayor of Starling City surrendered the Glades to crime boss Danny Brickwell, and Team Arrow/Canary decided to soldier on without Oliver.
In the mountain cabin, Oliver is planning to leave, but Tatsu thinks he needs to rest longer. Oliver feels he can’t linger any longer with Thea and Starling City in danger, but he does ask Tatsu to come along. She doesn’t want to go back to the world, though, and sends him off into the snow.
The news is debating the mayor’s decision to leave the Glades to its own devices. One talking head claims she had no choice, what with Brick having his own army of criminals, while the other says it’s worse than negotiating with terrorists, although that’s exactly what it is. But a bald guy smashes the TV with a baseball bat, so we don’t get to hear who wins.
Baldy says he’s collecting “taxes” from Glades businesses, this one being a diner, when Arsenal enters. Baldy asks Roy if he’s the “red streak”from TV, and Roy quips “wrong city” while dodging the bat. He ends up with a second lackey’s shotgun to his head, but only briefly, because Canary is with him, and the two of them beat up the dudes pretty efficiently.
In the Arrow Cave, Felicity and John are monitoring 911 calls from the Glades in order to dispatch Arsenal and Canary; people are still calling emergency services even though no one is coming because there’s nothing else they can do. As Roy and Laurel mount Oliver’s motorcycle to the next crisis, Sara’s Glades buddy from last season, Sin, spots them. She calls Sara’s name, but Laurel doesn’t notice.
Quentin is also listening to 911 calls, and he calls Felicity, claiming he wants to help—if he can’t send the police in, he has to help some other way. He claims he has useful police intel on Brick, and Felicity says she will send Roy over to collect it as soon as they can spare him. Quentin sighs once they hang up and pops a heart pill.
Malcolm and Thea are sparring again, and she’s getting better. He’s displeased, however, when she gets him at swordpoint and doesn’t kill him. Thea protests that it wasn’t hesitation, she just didn’t kill him, but admits she’s not a killer when Malcolm presses for a reaction in a real fight. He’s trying to get across that the League of Assassins is awfully good at killing (hence the name) and she better be okay with it or she’ll end up dead. Malcolm tells her that he wasn’t always a killer and his first time was difficult. She asks why he started, then, and he claims that his first kill was the man who murdered his wife.
Flashback 21 years. Malcolm, looking remarkably similar to Malcolm 21 years later (then again, we already knew John Barrowman has a magic painting hidden away somewhere), walks down his mansion hallway while talking on the phone. Little Tommy is having a nightmare upstairs, and Malcolm runs up to take care of him, promising he won’t let anything bad happen to him.
Malcolm asks where Tommy’s mom is, and Tommy doesn’t know; the butler or nanny or whoever raises rich people’s kids put him to bed. The doorbell rings, and Tommy asks if that’s his mom. Malcolm says probably, instead of “your mother lives here, she wouldn’t ring the doorbell, you tiny moron.” As you might expect, it’s a pair of cops, and they don’t appear to have good news.
Back in real time, Roy meets Quentin in that cameraless alley behind the police station, and Quentin immediately calls him by name. Roy pretends to be confused, but Quentin knows he wears a red hoodie and shoots arrows, so he claims the extra leather does not throw him off. I dunno, Quentin, it seems to work for Oliver. Roy gives up on his voice modulator as Quentin passes over a file on Brick, apparently everything the SCPD could salvage on him. Quentin asks after Arrow, and Roy claims he’s still “unavailable.” Quentin, of course, asks about Sara as well, and all Roy can say is that he’ll tell Canary Quentin was looking for her. Quentin demands that Roy just be careful.
Back in the Cave, Laurel won’t let Roy suture her latest wound, claiming she’ll just add the scar to her growing collection. John and Felicity are going through the old evidence on Brick, and they find an interesting hit on a recent murder—the same gun in that shooting was used in one 21 years ago. Uh-oh, Malcolm. Your first kill wasn’t so heroic after all. And he knows it, because he’s spying on Team Arrow through a camera that looks to be either part of Felicity’s computer monitor or mounted on it.
Oliver is limping and coughing through the woods, because he’s an idiot. He hears a noise and tells Tatsu, who is in fact following him, that she could say “I told you so” in person. After dark, she’s checking his wound by the fire and he asks why she decided to come with him. She claims it’s just that she’s been to enough funerals but she doesn’t have any particular intention to help Oliver in his crusade, even though Ra’s will no doubt come after him–and Thea–as soon as he finds out he’s alive. Oliver thinks Tatsu might have a shot against Ra’s because she’s also good with swords, but she says to fight Ra’s Oliver needs more than good technique–he has to fight like Ra’s. What, one-handed?
Back in Starling, Malcolm is sharpening his sword, and no, that is not a euphemism. Thea walks in, asking if the League is onto them, but Malcolm says no, it’s personal: he’s going to fuck Brick up. Thea suggests they, I dunno, go to the police (to be fair to Thea, he didn’t tell her it’s Brick, but she also knows he can’t exactly waltz into Starling City PD, right?). Malcolm says that he swore to protect his wife and failed, but now he can set things right.
Twenty-one years ago, Malcolm is sitting at Rebecca’s grave post-funeral, while Tommy and baby!Oliver hover nearby. While they watch, a man comes over to sit next to Malcolm and tells him that he heard the police have a person of interest, although not enough evidence to arrest him. He leaves Malcolm with a picture of the supposed killer.
In real time in the Arrow Cave, Roy doesn’t understand why they care that Brick killed Malcolm’s wife two decades prior. John suggests they tell Malcolm and have him handle Brick, which Laurel thinks is “dark” but I think is totally justified. Felicity doesn’t think it matters because Malcolm will have the same problems locating Brick as Team Arrow; Brick’s army is apparently cutting cell towers and killing traffic cameras in the Glades to avoid detection. Roy asks the same question I have, which is how the Brick Crew is talking to one another without cell service, and he and Laurel remember that the goons in the bar in the Glades were using walkie-talkies. Felicity hurries to the magic computers. A bit of triangulation later and the team has a location of supposed headquarters: the currently unused Glades police precinct house. What, they didn’t think to check there immediately?
At the Glades precinct house, Brick is pissed that the two goons from earlier failed to kill Arsenal. He kills one and is about to shoot the other when the power goes out, because Felicity has cut it. Brick’s men begin to sweep the building, but Arsenal and Canary take them out two or so at a time until Brick grabs flare guns and throws them off their game. Before he can fire real bullets, though, Merlyn shows up, and he is not amused. He hits Brick with one arrow and marches straight up to Roy and Laurel—he wants to chat.
They bring Malcolm down to the Cave (it’s not like he doesn’t already have it bugged and have the codes for entry), and he suggests they have a common enemy in Brick. Malcolm says it’s been hard to maintain his informant chain since he supposedly died and supposedly can’t be informing everyone on earth he’s alive. He’s impressed that Team Arrow found Brick, though. Felicity is pretty incredulous that Malcolm thinks they should team up, but he points out that they need the help, even if pairing up with Malcolm ensures that Brickwell is going to get murdered.
Upstairs at Verdant, Thea watches three of Brick’s men chug liquor from the bottles as Roy approaches. He says that she stole his idea of overlooking the club and pretending all his problems were gone, and Thea admits that Malcolm is gearing up to kill Brick for murdering Rebecca. Roy points out that killing people is kind of just what Malcolm does, but Thea thinks he deserves some credit for protecting her; even the uprising was supposed to be about helping the Glades (through mass murder). Thea asks if she can help Roy with his problems, but Roy says she already has.
Predictably, the rest of Team Arrow is not immediately on board with Roy’s suggestion that they team up with Malcolm. Desperate times, and all. Laurel is paying attention, though, because shit is real in the Glades, and they have to do something, even if that something is pointing Malcolm at Brick and letting nature take its course. Felicity isn’t okay with that and thinks there has to be a Better Way, but Roy doesn’t think there is, not without Oliver. Felicity claims Oliver would never agree to this, but again, Oliver isn’t there. She says even if they can’t come up with any other way to stop Brick, they won’t be able to live with themselves afterwards.
John heads out to find Malcolm in an alley near Verdant and tells him no deal. Malcolm is surprised, even after what he did to Sara via Thea, because he figured they’d realize he was their only chance. But John claims they can’t save shit if they only think about the ends justifying the means.
Two decades earlier, Malcolm tracks down the suspect in Rebecca’s murder emerging from a club. He claims to be lost, and the dude suggests he run away before he gets his watch stolen. Aaaand then Malcolm pulls a gun on him, claiming that the guy already took everything from him. Dude suggests that Malcolm has never held a gun and promptly takes it away from him, beating him up and leaving him lying in the street as he walks off. Malcolm, though, picks up the gun, aiming from where he is on the pavement, and fires.
Oliver pays a truck driver to take him back to civilization, and Tatsu gives him the last of his topical death-reversing cream. He tries one more time to get her to come along to Starling with him, but Tatsu isn’t interested in watching him either die or sacrifice whatever it will take to defeat Ra’s. They hug.
Malcolm is checking out his sword collection when Thea arrives. Thea is trying to tell Malcolm he’s a better person than he thinks, because he saved her life, but Malcolm disagrees. He says since his wife died, he’s only been a killer, and he’ll stay that way.
In flashback, Malcolm frantically washes his hands and then packs a bag. The dude from the cemetery brings him an envelope of cash, then quickly deduces what’s going on and tells Malcolm they can cover it up. Malcolm claims he can’t stay, though, because he’s still angry–killing the guy did nothing. Tommy, of course, comes downstairs, and Malcolm tells him he has to leave. Tommy points out that Malcolm said he’d always be there for him, but Malcolm argues that he’s going to learn how to protect them better.
Now, in the Arrow Cave, John says Malcolm didn’t seem particularly upset by their refusal to work with him, just inconvenienced, and that even if they made the wrong choice, they did the right thing. Roy wonders how many people will die because of the decision, because they’re still seriously outmanned in the Glades. Laurel realizes that there may be other people they can call on—the town itself. Does that mean John is going to fight this time? Because I do not understand why he’s been staying home, he’s a much better fighter than Laurel.
Laurel approaches Ted as he locks up Wildcat Gym, and he suggests that she’s been busy. She looks a little ashamed, because he had told her she wasn’t ready to be on the streets. But she isn’t there to argue—she’s obviously recruiting. Roy, meanwhile, finds Sin emerging from a diner, and she immediately envelopes him in a hug. She says she saw Sara and wants to know why Roy didn’t tell her about Sara’s return, and Roy promises they’ll talk about it after they take back the Glades.
The core team sits in a van, a little terrified and a lot second-guessing themselves. Roy suggests it’s better to think about if they’re acting crazy when they don’t have masks on. Arsenal and Canary head out.
Arsenal hits Brick’s car with a trick arrow to get Brick’s attention, and sure enough, he’s annoyed and uncowed, mostly making Halloween jokes. “Daniel Brickwell,” says Canary, “you have failed this city,” continues Arsenal–and Roy does a pretty solid Oliver impression. Brick is still not impressed as his merry band of prison escapees materializes behind him. But Sin leads out a whole mess of Glade citizens who are equally unamused. Aaaaand brawl!
Arsenal and Canary are fighting well, and Sin is holding her own with her baseball bat. Brick takes down a couple people until he gets to Wildcat, who does a pretty solid job of kicking his ass for a second. But that second ends, and Brick starts hammering him. Arsenal hits Brick with an arrow before he can shoot Ted, but Ted is already pretty fucked up. Laurel is wasting time fussing over him when she should be fighting. Brick retreats down an alley, pulling the arrow out of his chest, but he promptly runs into Merlyn. They fight, and Merlyn takes him down immediately, dropping his bow, because he is srsbzns right now.
Back at the main brawl, Sin is staring at Canary from across the street, possibly coming to the realization that it’s not Sara, before jumping back into things, and Ted might be fatally wounded, which would suck. Before we really find out, though, an arrow comes singing into the middle of the battle, stopping Arsenal cold and making Laurel forget about the dying Wildcat. They’re pretty exhilarated.
Malcolm tugs off his hood and points a handgun at Brick’s head, telling him it’s for Rebecca. Brick is confused, because he’s committed a lot of murders in 21 years. Malcolm expands, telling Brick that Rebecca was a good person and ran the clinic in the Glades. Brick just laughs, because Rebecca was his gang initiation. Aaaand Oliver there, growling at Malcolm not to do it, that there’s been enough death, and Brick’s won’t balance the scales. Malcolm is unconcerned with scales, because all his choices led to Tommy’s death and he can’t change it. Oliver suggests he make a different choice this time, because he still has Thea.
At SCPD, Quentin is on the phone, suggesting that the police can go back into the Glades because Brick is out of commission, when his cell buzzes and he has to go—to the Glades, where Arrow is holding court with a group of citizens on top of a car. He apologizes for being gone, but says the citizens held up and saved the city. He then fires an arrow pointlessly into the night and probably kills a dog or something.
Quentin is giving the police orders to sweep the Glades for Brick’s men when Sin approaches, thanking him for bringing the cops back in. She did not expect to ever say those words, but for once she’s on the same side as them. Quentin remembers that she’s friends with Sara. Sin says yes, but the Canary she saw tonight was not Sara. Quentin doesn’t know who else it would be, but Sin is certain.
Thea is asleep on the couch in her loft when Malcolm comes in, tucking her in. She asks if he’s okay, and he admits that he didn’t kill Danny. Not for Thea—for himself. And of course Oliver comes in right then, hugging her and claiming that he went to Bludhaven (to hang out with Nightwing?) and maaaybe spent the last few weeks in jail.
He and Malcolm stare at each other again, and then they shake hands, much to Thea’s amazement. Malcolm claims he was a good father before Rebecca died, and Oliver says he remembers. As they talk in the corner, supposedly out of Thea’s earshot, Oliver warns that Ra’s will come for him, and Ra’s will find out the truth about Sara’s death and come for Thea, too. Except Oliver plans to kill Ra’s first. Malcolm points out that the “kill Ra’s” strategy didn’t work so well last time, but Oliver has a new plan: he wants Malcolm to train him.
In flashback, Malcolm walks into a training room in Nandar Prabat, where two League members are sparring. The battle comes to an end, and a young girl removes her mask, approaching Malcolm, introducing herself as “Nyssa, Heir to the Demon.” Malcolm claims he isn’t there to fight, but she says there’s no other reason to come. Oh, and she demands a reason not to kill him. At a loss, Malcolm produces a coin from behind her ear, which he often used to cheer up a similarly aged Tommy. Nyssa is not particularly amused, but she does name him: The Magician.
In the Arrow Cave, the team is waiting as Oliver comes down. Felicity immediately hugs him and cries, and Oliver is impressed with all of them, thanking John and Roy with handshakes. Not one of them mentions that he could have fucking called 12 hours ago when he made it back to civilization rather than just show up in the middle of a riot shooting arrows.
The sword that had impaled Oliver is still in the Cave, and Oliver confirms that it’s Ra’s’ sword, retrieved by Malcolm. Roy wants to know what the plan is for dealing with Ra’s, and Oliver says that he and Malcolm are working on it. Felicity is appalled, because Malcolm is a Bad Guy, but Oliver doesn’t care, because Malcolm has the knowledge to defeat Ra’s. Felicity decides she was wrong about everything and storms out. OH MY GOD FELICITY NOT LETTING MALCOLM KILL BRICK IS NOT THE SAME AS LEARNING RA’S AL GHUL’S WEAKNESSES FROM HIM.
Felicity is having her existential crisis outside Verdant, and Oliver of course comes to find her. She doesn’t want to talk, but he apologizes, figuring that she’s not really upset about the Malcolm thing. She allows that she totally fantasized about Malcolm being wrong about him being dead and that he would be different when he came back from almost dying. She is forgetting that he already almost died and changed because of it; that ship has sailed, Felicity. She recalls that the last thing Oliver said to her was that he loved her, and now he’s working with Malcolm, who had one woman Oliver loves kill another woman Oliver loved, so she doesn’t want to be in that category of women Oliver loves. UGH WHATEVER FELICITY.